Yesterday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte raised eyebrows in declaring a “separation” from the United States and the forming of a military and commercial alliance. Other officials quickly backtracked, insisting he didn’t mean that historic economic ties with the US would be cut.
Today, Duterte also chimed in, saying he had not meant to suggest a total severing of ties with the United States, saying that such ties are in the best interest of his countrymen, and adding that he only meant to say that the Philippines was separating its foreign policy priorities from those of the US, and would no longer follow wherever the US leads.
US officials continued to criticize Duterte for his “troubling” comments, insisting they want further clarification of what he meant. The outspoken Duterte has been clashing with US policymakers in public comments for months.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter insisted that despite Duterte’s talk of a split, the US still has a militiary alliance with the Philippines and intends to continue with that, and that the US would keep its “important alliance commitments” with the country.